Arctic Circle Cruise Port Guide

Crossing the imaginary line of the Arctic Circle as you cruise Norway’s starkly beautiful fjord-indented coast is a thrilling rite of passage to many travelers. Luxurious Arctic Circle cruises are the best way to admire the raw beauty of nature from every angle, as the scenery in northern Norway is simply breathtaking.

Jagged, tooth-like mountains, their peaks dusted in snow even in summer, extend along the coast as far as the eye can see. Hundreds of rocky islets and skerries, remnants of the last Ice Age, are scattered across the sea. Some are marked by a tiny fishing hut or summerhouse, but most are uninhabited.

During much of the summer, areas north of the Arctic Circle receive 24 hours of daylight, a time to observe the changing colors on the rocks and mountaintops as the sun skims the horizon. It’s a rare privilege to be traveling in such a beautiful, remote place, and you’ll have a real sense of being alone at the top of the world.

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Top Sights & Attractions on Arctic Circle Cruises

The Polar Circle Globe, Vikingen Island

The simple stone-and-metal Polar Circle globe monument on the tiny, rocky islet of Vikingen, between Nesna and Ørnes, marks the spot where you’ve officially crossed into the Arctic. In fact, the “official” line of the Arctic Circle varies by several feet according to the Earth’s axis, but the monument, of course, is permanent.

Arctic Wildlife

Wildlife thrives in this pristine environment, so be ready with your binoculars. You could see puffins, with their jaunty, orange-and-black beaks, glossy cormorants drying their wings after a dive, majestic sea eagles, and eider ducks flying in formation. Whales feed in the nutrient-rich waters here, so keep an eye out for pilot, minke, and humpback whales, as well as dolphins and orcas. You could also see harbor and gray seals lying on the rocks in the sunshine.

Midnight Sun

On cruises to the Arctic Circle, you’ll see some of the most magnificent scenery imaginable as your ship glides along the Norwegian coast. In late June and early July, stay awake to watch the unearthly phenomenon of the midnight sun. At this time of year, the sun sinks slowly toward the horizon, casting a pale golden glow over the mountains and islands, and then rises again immediately. 

Culture & History of the Arctic Circle

The name “Arctic” comes from the Greek “arktos,” which means “bear,” and represents the region’s location below Ursa Major, the Great Bear constellation that circles the night sky above this point.

This is a sparsely populated area of Norway, and once you’re away from the coastal towns, it’s rich with folklore. A traditional Nordic legend, for example, is that the mountains that line the coast were once trolls, evil giants that roamed in darkness, suddenly turned to stone by the sunlight. A more modern reality is the fact that Norwegians, who love the outdoors, come here in summer for hiking, camping, fishing, and mountain climbing, with no concern for trolls.

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